London Bomb Scare

Some time ago, in London, amidst the perpetual banter of diesel trucks, small flecks of frozen liquid falling from the seldom-clear skies, bitter cold gusts of wind and other now pleasant memories, after cooking and eating a splendid chicken dinner, and sometime during the gripping after-dinner conversation with some friends we had had over for dinner, we all noticed, by way of that strangely obscure feeling of an absence of accustomed white-noise, that something was distinctly abnormal. There was no traffic outside. The realization came to everyone all at once, with a force and urgency that abruptly concluded our discussion and left an unaccustomed silence in its stead. Realizing the rarity of the situation within which we found ourselves, we all rushed to the windows to look down on the street, not particularly knowing what to expect, and all experiencing a fair amount of excitement at the prospect of being involved in the unexpected.

After struggling to open windows and jutting our heads as far outside the flat as possible without tumbling into the curiosities below, we looked left and right, trying desperately to get some kind of clue as to what had made the earth stand still. A police constable in a bright yellow vest, spotting our four (what must have been very funny looking) uncovered heads careening out of our first story (above ground floor) flat, yelled, incoherently at first, “Get back inside, there’s been a bomb threat on this street.” As we collectively ducked our heads back into the flat, what probably should have registered as fear was somehow perverted into a common sense of delirious excitement.

A bomb! There is nothing quite like flirting with the possibility of death to truly get the heart going. We were all consumed with a sudden giddiness that seemed, and still seems, dreadfully out of place. It was as if somehow the proximity of the danger, and the absolute powerlessness to do anything about the situation combined to create an overwhelming sense of anticipation that could not be held in check, and therefore morphed into exhilaration.

We babbled incessantly with each other and continuously questioned the validity of the threat, all with a collective sparkle in our eyes that fed the flame still more. It took all of an hour to work ourselves into a feverish pitch of optimistic dread and apocalyptic speculation.

In the end, there was no bomb. The street was re-opened and the rumbling Lorries continued about their normal business, unassuaged by the brief closure. I went to bed that night feeling different, like I had experienced something important. Indeed, I believe I had.